Income, wealth, and IQ

I’m occasionally asked about financial returns to cognitive ability. As a rough rule of thumb, judging from the graphs below (obtained here), I would say: On average, an increase of IQ by one SD corresponds to  ~ $30k per annum of additional income. (Somewhat less than 1 SD in income; the distribution is far from …

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How Do You Feel When Something Fails To Replicate?

Short Answer: I don’t know, I don’t care. There is an ongoing discussion about the health of psychological science and the relative merits of different research practices that could improve research. This productive discussion occasionally spawns a parallel conversation about the “psychology of the replicators” or an extended mediation about their motives, emotions, and intentions. …

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The Fourth Law of Behavior Genetics?

I believe the law stated below almost follows from the observation that humans brains are complex machines: hence the DNA blueprint has many components, and variance is spread over these components  :^) However, note the evidence for discrete genetic modules of large effect in other species: Discrete genetic modules can control complex behavior (burrowing behavior in …

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Perils of Prediction

Highly recommended podcast: Tim Harford (FT) at the LSE. Among the topics covered are Keynes’ and Irving Fisher’s performance as investors, and Philip Tetlock’s IARPA-sponsored Good Judgement Project, meant to evaluate expert prediction of complex events. Project researchers (psychologists) find that “actively open-minded thinkers” (those who are willing to learn from those that disagree with them) …

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More GWAS hits for cognitive ability

More genome-wide significant associations between individual SNPs and cognitive ability from a sample of 50k individuals. See also First GWAS hits for cognitive ability. Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53 949) Nature Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 3 February 2015 doi: 10.1038/mp.2014.188 General …

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A Clever Control Supporting Claims that Exercise Improve Cognition

Many studies over the years have found that aerobic exercise improves cognitive performance. The following are just a sample of those published in the last 12 months: “Mind racing: The influence of exercise on long-term memory consolidation“, published in Memory, found that aerobic exercise improved the learning of procedures or written text whether the subjects …

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de novo mutations and autism

These results suggest that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in high functioning males may be a different condition than ASD in low-IQ males and females. They also suggest many gene targets in which small “nicks” could result in lower IQ. I believe that at least part of “normal” population variation in IQ is due to effects …

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Is Obama a Narcissist?

Warning: For educational purposes only. I am a personality researcher not a political scientist! Short Answer: Probably Not. Longer Answer: There has been a fair bit of discussion about narcissism and the current president (see here for example). Some of this stemmed from recent claims about his use of first person pronouns (i.e., a purported …

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Genius (Nautilus Magazine)

The article excerpted below, in the science magazine Nautilus, is an introduction to certain ideas from my paper On the genetic architecture of intelligence and other quantitative traits. Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming (Nautilus, special issue: Genius) Genetic engineering will one day create the smartest humans who have ever lived. Lev Landau, a Nobelist and one of …

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What makes for a stable marriage?

Perhaps another important — but unsurprising — finding was that couples who attend church regularly have much stabler marriages. In fact, couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers. Your attitude toward your partner If your partner’s looks or wealth are an important factor in whether you want …

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My Worst Colleague Ever

We’ve all met them — those colleagues who seem to drive us to the workplace “brink”. They have an uncanny ability to push our buttons and leave stress in their wake. They might talk over us at meetings, openly criticize our work or simply suffer from a chronic negative attitude. They have a unique power to deflate …

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Twins reared apart

For those interested in studies of identical twins reared apart, see IQ Similarity of Twins Reared Apart: findings and responses to critics, Bouchard (1997). A question sometimes raised by critics concerns the extent to which twins reared apart actually experienced different environments. Norms of reaction, GxE interactions, and other (conceptually trivial but potentially obfuscatory) topics …

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The Human Trial of Perseverance

Perseverance isn’t flashy. It isn’t really highlight material. Illustrations of perseverance don’t necessarily make for exciting television. So I don’t blame you if you didn’t hear about the Guilder Rodriguez story. Who is Guilder, you ask? Why, he’s the 31 year-old utility infielder who plays Major League Baseball for the Texas Rangers. Only thing is…Guilder …

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Creating Great Ideas

I hate it when the great ideas aren’t flowing. It’s like a dam that disrupts the flow of a river. Creative ideas are funny creatures. They are more like cats than puppies. They will most likely not jump up and down when they see you; tail wagging, wanting your attention. They notice when you arrive at the …

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PTSD could be prevented with a pill

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been getting a lot of press the past few years, especially regarding the number of active military personnel that are coming home from deployments with PTSD.  Scientists recently discovered how certain people can be susceptible to PTSD after experiencing severe trauma while others are not susceptible.  Scientists introduced a trauma …

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Ideology and Homophily

The Phenomenon Homophily (“love of similar”), the tendency to bond with others who are similar to oneself, has been in the news lately.  Clarity Campaigns, a Democratic analytics firm, created an ideological dashboard for the Washington Post. Type in the answer to 7 simple questions, and it will give you the zip code where you can …

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Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China

The study below discusses a psychological/cognitive/personality gradient between N and S China, possibly driven by a history of wheat vs rice cultivation. Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture (Science) Cross-cultural psychologists have mostly contrasted East Asia with the West. However, this study shows that there are major psychological differences within China. …

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How to Lead as a Follower

  I know there’s always a lot of talk about leadership. But I’ve always been enamored with people who seem to be great followers. And I’m not talking about the folks who just say “Yes, sir” and “Yes, m’am” to their boss at every turn. I’m talking about the middle-management employees, young professionals, and the …

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Eat and Get Out

CHOW is one of many food themed websites, and if you follow this link you will find a 2006 entry on environmental psychology discussing a perennial problem for restaraunteurs: Clearing the tables so that new paying customers can get in. A joint in Chicago named Ed Debevic’s has incorporated the idea into the cultivated surliness …

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The Direction of Kindness

I was recently reading the script for a commencement speech given by critically-acclaimed author George Saunders to the graduating class of 2013 at Syracuse University. His message serves as a poignant reminder about letting go of the trivial things we so often become enamored with – things like accomplishment and success that seem anything but …

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Pain’s Preparation

The most successful people typically have their greatest impact where they have experienced the most personal pain. In The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner (portrayed by Will Smith) struggles with homelessness for nearly a year while trying to raise his toddler-aged son on meager wages before eventually creating his own brokerage firm and becoming a self-made …

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Neanderthals dumb?

This figure is from the Supplement (p.62) of a recent Nature paper describing a high quality genome sequence obtained from the toe of a female Neanderthal who lived in the Altai mountains in Siberia. Interestingly, copy number variation at 16p11.2 is one of the structural variants identified in a recent deCODE study as related to …

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Is science self-correcting?

More fun from our man Ioannidis. See earlier posts Medical science? , NIH discovers reproducibility and Bounded cognition. A toy model of the dynamics of scientific research, with probability distributions for accuracy of experimental results, mechanisms for updating of beliefs by individual scientists, crowd behavior, bounded cognition, etc. can easily exhibit parameter regions where progress is limited …

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